This week we spoke to Hazel Scott, MONUC's Director of Adminstration (DOA), to get her impressions on the new MONUC mandate, and its budget, as well as the changes she has implemented in the administration of the mission since her appointment as DOA on September 12 2005.
How do you feel about MONUC's new mandate?
I think it's very good that we have gotten a mandate for as much as six months, and it has some very good elements that are necessary in terms of security sector reform and the consolidation of peace, and the training of the military and other aspects. I think that this is the first mission that has had such a mandate to train the military, and for that, I think that we are breaking ground in peacekeeping.
Will there be any reduction or increase in the budget?
Actually because of the way the UN system runs, we had to prepare this year's budget last year, in October. Although the budget has not yet been approved, there may be a slight increase, as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).
There will be a staff increase mainly in security and the administrative functions, and that has to do with the recent decentralization of administrative functions to the regions.
The staff increase translates into 166 staff members, 111 of which are national staff as we are trying to increase national staff and national capacity building. We will continue to have the same level for military and police staff.
What did you implement at the administration level in the MONUC mission?
When I came to this mission it became pretty obvious there were many problems. Given the size of the mission, many things were coming to my desk that didn't need to come, and decisions were taking a long time to be made, because everything was coming to Kinshasa.
So one of the things we embarked upon was to have some consultants come on board who agreed that we had to move towards decentralization. Basically what we have done is we have decentralized into three sectors, in the east we have two sectors, one in Bunia and one in Bukavu, and Kinshasa in the west, headed by regional administrative officers, who coordinate the work within each sector.
All officers within each sector are headed by a Field Office Manager (FOM), so most of the decisions are being made at a regional level or at the office level. At the mission level, we concentrate on things like budget or planning for the year besides giving instructions to the region managers so that they can carry out the work.
We have found it very useful, it's still in its teething stage, because we started last year, and we're aiming to do an assessment of it next month.
Regarding MONUC staff, will there be any change in MONUC's structure such as women's participation in the mission?
We certainly look at gender when we are recruiting. This has always been one of the focuses for the organisation as a whole. Unfortunately in the DR of the Congo, particularly among our national staff, since most of the posts are logistical in nature, we have difficulty finding women for some of these posts.
But we are certainly going to be giving some benefits to women so that we can increase the numbers in that respect.
The other day I travelled to Goma, and I saw that we had two women mechanics there. That was very heartening to me, so I hope that we can do the same in other areas of the country.
MONUC is the largest peacekeeping mission, what do you see as the differences between it and the other missions?
I think it is just the sheer magnitude and complexity of the problems that we have here. Not necessarily in terms of the political problems, but the problems in terms of the infrastructure of the country, the size of the country and the numbers of people here.
I think it was the BBC that termed the elections as a "logistical nightmare," and it certainly is a logistical nightmare to get around the country. In that respect, we are very different from most of the other missions, because the areas that they cover are very small, and we have a time difference between east and west, which doesn't exist in any other mission.
The United Nations is now hiring Congolese as police, observers or international staff for other missions, how engaged is MONUC in this process?
From a civilian perspective, MONUC has provided capacity building for most of our local staff, which has given them opportunities to go out as UNV's, and as international staff in other missions, even though this is not the reason why we do the capacity building. We do the capacity building for them to be able to work within the country, but it's good to see that they can get out, get exposure, and return to be better citizens within their country.